Carmel Beach Once a colony for artists, actors, writers, intellectuals and other "Bohemians," this quirky hamlet exudes a quaint European charm. Bordered by a famous mile-long swath of white-sand beach perfect for surfing, building sandcastles and no-leash-required dog-walking, this little village by the sea is home to hundreds of galleries, world-class restaurants, exclusive shops, a 240-year-old mission and a tight-knit local population who live in picturesque cottages on flower-lined streets. A popular destination for tourists, celebrities, gourmands and dog lovers, Carmel retains a personality all its own.

2010 Population: 3,722
2010 median home price: $1.045 million

Top Carmel-by-the-Sea
1. Downtown Carmel
Quaint. Diminutive village. One of the most endearing seaside towns of the West Coast. Feel of an 18th century European village. Carefully nurtured artistic ambience. A slice of almost English country refinement. Tidy and almost impossibly tasteful in its collection of landscaped cottages, elegant lodging and upscale restaurants. A manicured, prosperous, careful air. FULL STORY

2. Point Sur State Historic Park
Since 1889, the Point Sur Light Station has been warning ships of the hazards along its picturesque but perilous section of the Big Sur coast. For 85 years, lighthouse keepers staffed the station 24 hours a day, sounding a fog signal and shining a beacon that was visible for 23 nautical miles. FULL STORY

3. Tor House
Tucked amid the modern houses on Carmel Point is a timeless treasure - poet Robinson Jeffers' Tor House and Hawk Tower. If you are a fan of Jeffers' poetry, a tour of the home and tower and the stunning setting will quickly tell you what inspired him. If you aren't familiar with his work, a visit will inspire you to dive in. FULL STORY

4. Carmel Mission
The Carmel Mission was the favorite of founder Father Junipero Serra and he is buried there.
Where: 3080 Rio Road, Carmel
Information: (831) 624-1271

5. Ocean Avenue Downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea
Beverly Hills has Rodeo Drive. New York has Fifth Avenue. And Carmel has Ocean Avenue, with its mix of art, clothing, kitsch and more.
Where: Downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea
Information:Carmel Chamber of Commerce, San Carlos between 5th and 6th
(831) 624-2522

6. Beach Encounters
The unexpected rewards for early risers and beach walkers who share the water and sometimes the beach with otters, seals, dolphins and whales. Sue McCloud, Carmel Mayor

7. Coffee & Eavesdropping
Lingering over a cup of coffee at the Ill Fornaio s octagon pavilion, pretending to read a newspaper but really eavesdropping on conversations. Belle Yang, local painter and writer

8. City Events
The many special city events that attract two-and four-legged visitors and young and old, including the Fourth of July celebration, the city s birthday party and parade and the lighting of the holiday tree. Sue McCloud, Carmel Mayor

9. Hidden Delights
The hidden delights waiting to be discovered behind residential garden walls, downtown courtyards, the wrought iron ABC sign hanging from a south wall at the former Sunset Grammar School, and the pond in Devendorf Park with its hidden dragon and crocodile.

Dining in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Little Swiss Cafe
6th Ave & Dolores St
Carmel, CA 93921

Hog's Breath Inn
San Carlos St & 5th Ave
Carmel, CA 93921

Little Napoli
Dolores St & 7th Ave
Carmel, CA 93921

6th & Mission St
Carmel, CA 93921

CARMEL >> The loudest and warmest applause from the massive crowd lining both sides of Ocean Avenue for Thursday's Tour d'Elegance vintage car showcase was reserved for the oldest vehicles in the parade — indeed, some of the oldest   READ MORE
CARMEL >> Among those few things in the universe that shine as brightly as a great wax job is the gleam in the eye of a classic car owner whenever the opportunity arises to talk about the vehicle.   READ MORE
CARMEL >> A master artist is the highest honor one can achieve and starting July 25, 41 of these masters will have their work displayed at Mountainsong Galleries in Carmel.   READ MORE
Michael Stadler 360.221.6030 mai
Carmel >> Three bestselling mystery writers will be the featured attractions April 24 at "Mystery Edition," a fundraising event for the Carmel Public Library.   READ MORE
VERNON MCKNIGHT/Herald Correspondent
Two of Germany's top winemakers and another from San Benito County traveled to Carmel this week and collaborated Saturday with a pair of California's renowned grand chefs to produce a three-hour-long, $195-a-plate lunch, one of the featured events at the Relais & Chateaux Gourmet Fest, a four-day e   READ MORE
Lodging in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel Mission Inn
3665 Rio Rd
Carmel, CA 93923
Check Rates & Availability

Best Western Carmel's Town House Lodge
5th Avenue & San Carlos
Carmel, CA 93923
Check Rates & Availability

Carmel Crystal Bay Inn
24815 Carpenter
Carmel, CA 93923
Check Rates & Availability

Who's on twitter
Day Hikes Around Monterey and Carmel: 77 Great Hikes by Robert Stones (Paperback - April 1, 2002)

Carmel-by-the-Sea (CA) (Paperback - May 24, 2006)